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Transnational Gangs

ICE works with local law enforcement to arrest 9 gang members in South Carolina

GREENVILLE, S.C. - Eight men and one juvenile with ties to the violent Sur-13 and Vatos Locos street gangs are facing deportation following a day-long enforcement operation involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and several local law enforcement agencies.

The arrests were made as part of an ongoing initiative by ICE's National Gang Unit dubbed Operation Community Shield. As part of the initiative, ICE partners with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the country to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs.

This operation was spearheaded by ICE and worked jointly with the Greenville Sheriff's Office Greer Police Department, Greenville City Police Department, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office (SCCO).

Eight men were transported to the Mecklenburg County Jail in Charlotte, N.C., and two were released pending their hearing before an immigration judge.

"This operation shows our collective resolve to attack and dismantle the street gangs that are threatening our neighborhoods," said Greg Sassi, resident agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Greenville. "ICE will continue to use its unique immigration and customs authorities to target these organizations and combat the violence and intimidation they use to hold our communities hostage to fear."

Since Operation Community Shield began in February 2005, ICE agents nationwide have arrested more than 14,000 gang members and associates linked to more than 900 different gangs. More than 5,000 were arrested on criminal violations.

ICE's National Gang Unit identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.

Through Operation Community Shield, the federal government uses its powerful immigration and customs authorities in a coordinated, national campaign against criminal street gangs in the United States. Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a connection to the border.

To report suspicious activity, call ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423 or visit www.ice.gov.